Colliers International: 'Exceptionally good time to invest in Bulgarian real estate'

Colliers International: 'Exceptionally good time to invest in Bulgarian real estate'

According to real estate consulting agency Colliers International, "this is the perfect time for investment in real estate" in Bulgaria.In a May 13 2010 media statement, Colliers said that it was a case now or never, stating that the time is "exceptionally appropriate for purchasing property".The statement quoted Tatyana Emilova, manager at Colliers International Bulgaria, as saying that the main factors defining the current business environment were the "affluent choice of supply" complete with "alluring price tags"; the "readiness of investors to offer flexible solutions" and the "suitable credit conditions".The agency said that its research showed that in the first quarter of 2010, the average prices of real estate in Sofa fell by three per cent, with certain variations applicable to different boroughs.In Malinova Dolina borough, prices had dropped the most, about nine per cent. The elite Sofia boroughs Boyana and Dragalevtsi were on average seven per cent cheaper. Borovo, also in the south of Sofia, went down by six per cent, as did Manastirski Livadi.Colliers said that price levels in Ivan Vazov and Dianabad had not changed much.However, according to the latest report by property consultants Cushman&Wakefield, commercial property in Europe had shown growth in demand in the first quarter, but that was mainly because of foreign players, or the so called "core markets in Europe, as in the UK, Germany, Sweden, France and the Netherlands, and thanks to "improving debt market sentiment, increased interest in larger lot sizes and by a spreading of interest to new areas," a May 12 2010 media statement said.However, prices in secondary markets, as is the one in Bulgaria, "will remain blighted by over-supply and pricing will fall further", the report's authors said.In fact, different real estate agencies speculate that prices in Bulgaria are likely to drop by a further 15 per cent in 2010.In the case of South Eastern Europe, investors remained on the market and were likely to continue to continue being selective and alert to macroeconomic and local factors despite the economic meltdown in Greece."What we are seeing is an increasingly polarised and challenging market. Investment demand is rising and so is supply, but most of the new supply is not of the prime quality demanded by these buyers and pricing of non-prime assets is often still to high to compensate for the risk and the larger element of equity required", Michael Rhydderch, head of EMEA cross border capital markets group at Cushman&Wakefield, said.According to Industry Watch, real estate values are likely to drop by a further 10 per cent because of the weak influx of foreign capital and delayed bank credit in Bulgaria.For the period 2006-2008, foreign investment in Bulgarian real estate accounted for more than two billion euro, while in the preceding three years it was about 300 million a year before the global economic downturn eventually constricted the flow of cash.Real estate in Bulgaria's largest cities and towns recorded an average devaluation of about 28 per cent in the third quarter of 2009,  compared to last year, the National Statistics Institute (NSI) has said. From Industry Watch, the estimation is that this is equivalent to a six billion leva loss sustained by all property owners.Experts believe that the expected "flexibility" in the market, which will "save the sector", resulting from the drop in prices, is unlikely to materialise.They also deem unlikely a sudden rise in purchases because people with unstable or insufficient incomes will opt to rent rather than buy. In light of the economic crisis in Bulgaria and rising unemployment, the number of such people in the country is only likely to increase throughout 2010.

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